“If one sins and becomes guilty, he should return the item which he stole.” (Vayikra 5:23)
A person who has stolen is obligated to return a stolen item or its monetary value to the original owner or his heirs.
The Rambam cautions us in Hilchos Geneivah (1:2) that we may not steal even a tiny item. One may not steal even as a joke, with intention to return the item (ibid.). One may also not buy stolen property from a thief. This is a terrible sin, for it encourages the thief to continue his crimes (ibid. 5:1).
If one did steal intentionally or unintentionally, he must return the stolen item.
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger and Torah.org.